I know this is Monday, or at least it’s Monday as I write this. Moving ahead I’m going to try to blog every Wednesday morning. The Summer/Fall/Winter event season is upon me and once it starts I’ll be traveling Thursday through Monday nearly every week until Christmas. So, think “Tuesdays with Morrie”, but “Wednesdays with the Penguin”.
And, as I said last week, I’m relatively new at this personal blogging. Jenny [jennyhadfield.com] has been a successful blogger for years, on RunnersWorld.com and other sites. She seems to be designed for the digital medium. She’s learned how to distill ideas into their essence. It’s quite a talent. I, on the other hand, tend to be a story-teller and my thoughts – like now – can sometimes wander like a child chasing butterflies. But I’m trying.
In the words of the Buffalo Springfield song, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear “. With the ascent of American runners into the top echelon, the growth of the destination events, especially the half marathon, and the shift in the running demographics from nearly all men to – in some events – upwards of 70% women, there’s something happening here. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but it’s there.
In 1997 I met with the then president of a major running apparel company. I explained to him that there was a new running boom on the horizon, that they were a bit older, a bit slower, and that a whole lot of them were female. He told me straight out that I was wrong. Most people, and especially women he opined, would try running for a little while and then retreat to their basements and living rooms with their Jane Fonda videos. His company has since gone out of business.
When I was writing as the advocate – and almost the only advocate – of the second running boom I was viewed by many as a carrier of the disease of mediocrity that was trying to infect their beloved sport. What they didn’t understand was that I was fueled by their ridicule. I was right. I knew I was right. And they weren’t going to scare me off.
These days, though, I have stopped shouting. I have stopped waving my editorial sword at race directors, sponsors, and running specialty manufacturers. Most, not all, but most get it now. The battle for acceptance is over. We’ve won.
It’s a good feeling, but it is a different feeling. The baton has been passed to a generation of runners and walkers who will never know what it’s like to finish a marathon in 5 hours and be DEAD last. All I ask of those who carry the baton forward is to remember that a lot of very good people made this possible.